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Meehan Cites ‘Significant Impediments’ to Transferring Logistics to Iraqis

The U.S. military faces numerous hurdles as it works to transfer logistical operations to Iraqi security forces by the intended date of January 2008, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) said today

Meehan, who as chairman of the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee is spearheading a review of the U.S. transfer of power to Iraqi military and police forces, said that today, Iraqi security forces depend “heavily” on the United States for logistical support.

“Whether or not that [January 2008] goal can be met will be a critical factor in reducing U.S. troop presence in Iraq and cost to the American taxpayers,” Meehan said.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the establishment of new Iraqi security forces, “all” of the country’s logistics support has been provided by the United States, and little progress has been made, the subcommittee’s ranking member, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), said.

“We’re starting from zero,” Meehan explained.

Both lawmakers met with reporters today after a closed-door briefing with officials from the Government Accountability Office, an inspector general for Iraq and the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, the arm of the U.S. Central Command responsible for training Iraqi security forces.

“We were pleased to hear some good news stories about the hard work brought about by … men and women in the field,” Meehan said. “But it is clear that there are significant impediments to Iraqi logistic independence, which without continual attention and oversight could derail efforts to transition security responsibility to Iraqis is a timely and fiscally responsible” manner.

Some of the most basic tasks in establishing a sound logistical system have not been met, the lawmakers said. For example, the United States is still struggling to find Iraqis who can read and write to step into these logistics positions, Akin explained.

Additional impediments include overcoming the initial U.S. decision to dissolve Iraqi security forces and an insufficient banking system, Meehan added.

“The question that we begin to explore today is whether our current goals and expectations are realistic,” Meehan said.

Today’s meeting kicked off the the newly resurrected subcommittee’s investigation into the Bush administration’s strategy for training Iraqi security forces. A comprehensive report on the subcommittee’s findings is expected to be ready for the full committee by the end of June.

Next Tuesday, the panel will participate in another closed-door briefing dealing with training being provided to Iraqis security forces, Meehan said.

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